How to look good In Business Headshots

Let’s be frank, a business headshot is a nerve-wracking thing; you invest time, money, and a lot of confidence in those images. We’ve been doing this for years and we’ve seen our fair share of horror stories. What kind? Well, people aren’t very aware of the pre-requisites before a shoot.

We bet you’re wondering what kind of slip-ups. Well, let’s take you back to a summer morning in August, a young man named James gave a photographer named Eric a visit.

James was a part of a large equity firm, managing many people under him. They went to work and sorted a shoot.

Sounds fine right?

Unfortunately, when James got the images back, he noticed some of his colleagues were wearing poorly adjusted outfits, stained clothing, and worst of all the photos were dark and blurry. 

Veteran photographers avoid such hiccups; we make sure our clients are prepped well in advance, and we always have back-ups in case something takes a wrong turn.

Do’s and don’t when it comes to preparing for a business headshot: 

Wear roll-on deodorant. 

We’re not kidding, totally serious! The amount of slip-ups that happen during shoots because of this is insane.

Wearing roll-on deodorant keeps those nasty sweat patches away and prevents staining. As much as this sounds like an advert for deodorants, it’s not. Although by any means we aren’t experts brands like Dove, Nivea, and Sure, Sanex, etc. are very effective in preventing shirts from getting stained. Stains not only make our lives difficult, but they’re also pretty difficult to edit out, so why not prevent it?

A photo of cologne or deodrant to help decide what to wear for the headshot.

Hair Styling 

Gentlemen, we’re looking at you! No one wants to look at a photo where you’re looking like Tom Hanks in castaway. There’s no level of editing that will fix this…well that’s a lie but it will break the bank and the hours needed to make that right is totally not worth the pain.

We recommend before the shoot you take a nice trip down to the barbers, somewhere pricey that you’ll know will do the job right.

Once you’re feeling funky fresh, get some wax or gel and pretend you’re going to prom because you want to look your best.

Though caveat, wearing too much product can make your hair look shiny which sometimes makes your hair look greasy in photos.

For the ladies, if you have long hair that tends to frizz, it always advisable to carry anti-frizz spray with you in your purse. Anti-frizz spray will let you cure those pesky split ends and look dazzling in the shoot.

Another tip for both genders is to bring a comb or hairbrush with you, the hairbrush or comb will let you implement any last-minute fixes in the toilet before the shoot. This will let your hair be straight and tamed. Trust us when we say, photoshopping hair is so difficult because you have to work on each individual strand which is going in thousands of different directions. Worst comes to worst, sometimes it becomes a job for a specialist to edit out those hairs which can incur further costs.

A photo of a barber styling a mans hair before a photoshoot

Clothing

Clothing is one of the most important parts of a shoot, it can make or break a shoot. We can’t tell you how many times someone has come in unprofessionally dressed in a sloppy t-shirt with some Nirvana rip-off glued to it. Shocking as it is, this stuff actually happens. Can you imagine, when your photo is taken, and this is plastered over the entire company website. Not only is it embarrassing, but this could also cost you a job, and probably a few years down the line it could crop up somewhere else which might even cost you a promotion or another job offer.

Plated shirts don’t work either, frankly, anything that has stripes or a pattern on them shouldn’t be worn on the day of a shoot. A big issue with patterned items even on suits is that cameras don’t tend to capture them well. Pattern or striped clothing also tends to steal the viewers’ attention away from the person and toward the clothing.  

Since business headshots are formal we recommend putting on your best suit or dress. Something that screams, I’m attending the ball of great Gatsby, something that makes you look ravishing.

For the gentlemen, you can never go wrong with a classic 2 piece suit or even 3 pieces. Though the suit style is only one part, you should consider where you’re purchasing the suit from. You ideally want something that is a bang for its buck, something that doesn’t look cheap, something with a strong fabric. Colour is also important, you can never go wrong with a dark navy blue suit or classic grey. Avoid outlandish colors like pink, purple or yellow, these scream a lack of professionalism.

For the ladies, you have a range of options. You can rock a traditional shirt and trousers or go for a suit. As long as you follow similar guidelines for color and style as above you’ll be superb. Though, you may also decide to wear a dress. We recommend wearing something that is not too revealing, or tight – something professional but elegant.

Getting ready in a suit before a business headshot

Skincare

Taming wild skin is a tough one. In preparation for a shoot, we recommend following a regular skincare routine to prevent break-outs, this includes having a trifecta of using a face wash to clean your skin, toner, and finally moisturize your skin. This routine should be the following day and night up till your shoot leaving your skin smooth and ready for a shoot.

However, sometimes there are bumps on the road and that’s okay. There are always workarounds we can do before a shoot, for example using a little bit of foundation to cover any spots. For the gentlemen, you can borrow your sisters, wife’s & aunts if this is the case. Though try to keep it minimal and not go overboard as you would preparing for a big night out.

A picture depicting a woman using the appropriate skincare before a photoshoot

Wearing glasses

This is often insecurity for a lot of folks, but we can reassure you it is not really a thing to worry about. If you tend to wear your glasses in your normal day-to-day life, then you should probably wear them in the shot so you can look at the camera properly. However, if you still feel that you do not want to wear glasses, you can always opt for contact lenses during the photo shoot.

There are a few caveats when you wear glasses in a shoot. Dirty lenses come up in photos all the time, this can ruin a photo and make it very difficult to edit the specs out – sometimes even cause a reshoot to happen. So you should always give the glasses a nice clean with a solution and a microfibre cloth. You can find these types of products from Specsavers or vision express.

When you’re getting your photo taken it’s also a good idea to make sure the glasses are on properly. Glasses that slide off mid-photo down the bridge of your nose can ruin a perfectly good photograph from happening or block your eyes from being shown properly in a photograph as the frame may block your eyes from being captured.

A picture of glasses

Calm down

It’s always important to take a few deep breathes before a headshot – it can do a world of good and prevent a panic attack from happening.

However, if you find yourself to be a chronic worrier, it’s not a bad idea to meditate for at least 10 minutes before the shoot to give yourself some breathing space. Studies have found that meditation can drastically reduce anxiety even during a short period of time.

It might also be a good idea to consult your doctor before the photoshoot if these are things that give you a lot of anxiety.

A person meditating before a business photoshoot for their linkedin

Headshot Posing

One thing about posing you should know is that it’s not easy. It takes a professional male model’s literal years to master.

One thing you should take from the art of posing is that you’re a lot better off if you know how to pose. Knowing how to pose can help the photographer in so many ways, not only can we accentuate your jaw-line we can highlight any other features you’re giddy about.

Posing is different for everyone but there are few rules that you can follow; (1) practice facial expressions, (2) look slightly above the camera to make it look like you’re looking at the camera, (3) have good posture, (4) lower your chin so you can accentuate your jawline. The orange rule is quite an important one if you pretend there’s an orange under your chin when you’re lowering your jaw but you’ll naturally be aligned for a good angle on the camera. The problem with this technique it may feel artificial but your photos will come out looking pristine!

Angles

Before the shoot, it’s always best to let the photographer know if you prefer a certain side of your face, so the photographer can adjust and take photos of the side of the face you prefer. For example, if your eyes are smaller on one side of the face, the photographer can angle the photo to make this look less prominent. Believe us, these things tend to crop up, so don’t be embarrassed telling the photographer about your insecurities, we’re here to help you.

Moreover, if you’re very tall this can be somewhat of an issue for the photographer. Since people on the taller end of the spectrum, they’re used to looking over people and a shot from under is never the most appealing for a headshot.

There are two things you can do if you are tall, (1) you can form a squat pose if there are no chairs around, or(2) sit down. Being sat down is great because you don’t get tired from holding a squat and you’re constantly aligned with the camera so you’re able to focus on the other principles like facing the camera, smiling, and aligning your jaw.

A ruler to give context to the paragraph of the importance of angles in photographs

Smile for the headshot

This is really not as hard as it sounds, in fact, you do it every day so you’re already a master at it. The key is to bring this inner master out of yourself.

How?

It’s all about being at ease and cracking a few light-hearted jokes. Take a 2-minute break, no don’t have a kit-kat but look around make a silly joke with the photographer, and before you know it you’ll be smiling.

One thing to note, is there are two types of smiles – closed-lip smile and open-lipped (showing teeth). Both smiles are generally okay, it is usually dependent on how you feel.

If you’re uncomfortable with flashing the gnashers we suggest you let the photographer know so he can avoid sending you those types of photos after the shoot is done.

Another thing to avoid is posed smiles. Have you ever seen someone force a smile? Uncomfortable right? Now imagine that as your company headshot – it’s not a delightful image.

Bathroom break

It’s always a good idea to nib to the bathroom right before your shoot because a quick bathroom break can relieve your nerves as well as prevent you from feeling uncomfortable the whole shoot. Trust us holding it in is never good, your doctor will tell you the same, in fact, it shows in your image.

Bathroom breaks can also give you that last-minute check to see how you’re looking in the mirror if there’s anything you can do for a quick fix like adjust your hair or clothing.

A photograph of a bathroom to emphasise the importance of a bathroom break before a headshot

Refrain from talking

As obvious as it sounds It’s not a good idea to keep talking to your colleagues or other people in the room during a photoshoot as it can ruin your photo. So, the best advice is to avoid talking for the time the photographers taking a picture.


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